The primary driving factor for the adoption of 3D printing techniques in the development of products is that 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process.
Traditionally, products are constructed using a subtractive process that involves removing material from an object until it creates the desired part. Products that are manufactured with this method are most mass produced items.
Although accurate to the needed requirements, these methods produce waste and many components require multiple machining runs to reach the desired specifications. Additionally, for producing prototypes and proof of concepts, the costs associated can be high due to the nature of reiterations during the design process and expensive tooling machines used.
3D printing instead works through building millimetre thick layers using a variety of different materials such as carbon, nylon, metal and different plastics. Many more materials are continuing to be developed to meet manufacturing needs.
The promise of producing full products at home is not yet realized, nevertheless, rapid developments are happening in other areas, namely all the major engineering fields such as the automotive field, aerospace, mechanical engineering and civil engineering.
The aim of this white-paper is to highlight the most utilised 3D printing techniques and explore the qualities that each technique has. This paper will highlight material choices and both the strength and weakness of each printing technique in the context of rapid prototyping within an organisation.